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Anne Arundel Board of Education approves LGBTQ+ policy, adopts fiscal 2022 budget

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved a policy Wednesday in an effort to ensure the rights of gender-nonconforming students within public schools.

In the policy the board states that students have a right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that matches their gender identity. Under the new policy students also have the right to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match the gender identity the student consistently demonstrates and identifies with.

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Approved 6 to 1, with one abstention, the policy also specifies that the board supports continued professional development and the use of gender-inclusive terminology when practicable. Board member Michelle Corkadel abstained and Corine Frank voted against the policy.

Similar guidelines have been in place for years, but the board’s action strengthens the protections because now board approval would be required to remove those protections. Superintendent George Arlotto said nothing will immediately change because of the policy, but it does give them the board’s support as they continue to care for gender non-conforming children.

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“It does give us some more strength to continue to do the work and more focus to continue to do the work to support all of our students, particularly our LGBTQ+ students,” he said.

The board also adopted its fiscal 2022 operating budget, which was approved by the County Council this week. The total operating budget of $1,371,101,000 approved by the council does not fund all of the additional positions the Board of Education requested.

But it does fund 61 new positions, including 26 for Crofton High School, 15 for behavioral health and special education, six for teaching the English language and two for all-day pre-K. This week the County Council added nine positions to reduce classroom sizes to the operating budget.

The money was also appropriated for a 1% cost-of-living increase and a step advance for teachers, pending negotiations with the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. The County Council added an additional $110,900 for teacher compensation, specifically to help teachers make up regular pay increases that were skipped in prior years.

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